While parts of the freight rail lines out of Durban remain unusable weeks after the KwaZulu-Natal floods, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has moved to allay fears of imminent jet fuel shortages at O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

As a result of the floods, about 140 sections of Transnet freight rail lines from Durban to Johannesburg were damaged and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) estimates that it will only be able to repair the damaged rail infrastructure by 9 June 2022.

Of the 67 rail tanks en-route to OR Tambo International Airlines, only 11 have arrived, with 56 remaining behind.

However, on Tuesday, ACSA Chief Executive Officer Mpumi Mpofu assured that the supply of jet fuel to airlines flying in-and-out of O.R Tambo International Airport was stable and continues to meet demand.

Responding to media reports of an imminent jet fuel shortage, Mpofu said: “This situation has created uncertainty amongst international airlines, but I want to assure our airline partners and passengers that there is adequate fuel at O.R Tambo International Airport and all our airports”.

The ACSA CEO added: “We are in continued engagements with oil suppliers to share stock. Some international airlines are in the process of confirming the availability of stock directly with their suppliers.”

Mpofu said ACSA, TFR and oil companies have developed an interim plan to ensure sufficient jet fuel at O.R Tambo International Airport.

The plan involves transporting the remaining 56 rail tanks to the National Petroleum Refiners of South Africa (NATREF), Sasolburg – just over 500km inland – from where it will be pipelined for about 80km to O.R Tambo International Airport.

Mpofu said in the meantime, ACSA has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM – the usual manner of communicating with pilots), to formally notify international and domestic airlines across the globe, where necessary, to tanker in (refuel) from other ACSA airports because supply is not hampered.

“O.R. Tambo International Airport is currently operating on three to four days’ worth of stock which will be sustained over the next six weeks,” said Mpofu.

“We have confirmation by NATREF of an additional supply of 14 million litres of jet fuel.

“Additionally, we are expecting a shipment of 10 million litres on 5th May which will assist in stabilising ACSA’s fuel levels to approximately three to four days’ worth of stock.”

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